Encouraging a Hunger for God

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Encouraging a Hunger for God

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Shared with kind permission from author Barry Voss

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Matthew 5:6

There is an old saying that “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” It means that if a horse is not thirsty he likely will not drink, even if you place some water before him.  The same can be said of our relationship to God.  We can be led to God, but unless we desire Him we will have no interest. So it is important for us to develop a hunger for God and His Word, so that we may be filled with His Holy Spirit.

I once heard the Rev. David Jeremiah identify the difference between “Spiritual Hunger” and“Physical Hunger” in a sermon of his on the radio. He said that with physical hunger, the more you eat, the less hungry you become until you are full. But with spiritual hunger the opposite is true. The more you eat, the hungrier you get.  You can never have enough. For church leaders it is important to encourage others to have a spiritual hunger for God as well.  We can lead them to God but they must have a hunger for God themselves. When God’s people hunger for Him they desire more of Him and thus grow as disciples.

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A disciple of Christ should hunger for God as Jesus did. There is a difference between being a “disciple” and just being a “believer.” A Believer is someone who has a firm religious faith that they take as true or honest. A Disciple, on the other hand, is someone who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. Therefore, a disciple is more than just a believer because a disciple has an active faith. As James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.” There are many Biblical examples of people who hungered for God. They include faithful people like Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, Peter and Paul. If we also want to be a disciple of Jesus then we should hunger for God as these other disciples did.

Today, we need to encourage all believers in Jesus to develop a hunger for God and so become disciples of Jesus as well. Why should we encourage a hunger for God? First, we know that only God can fill their spiritual “void” and give them true peace. God is the only one who can satisfy their spiritual desires and needs. Second, we were all created to be in relationship with our Creator. We have all been separated from God through sin, and He wants us, and them, back! Third, Christ is the ONLY way to salvation and eternal life.  The Bible says in Acts 4:12 that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” And lastly, we should encourage a hunger for God because of the blessings God wants to give each of us in this life. If we seek Him first, we will receive everything else (Matthew 6:33)!

How can we tell if someone has a hunger for God? First, they love to worship God. Second, they have a desire to know and understand God’s Word and pursue His will for their life. Third, they want to fill the emptiness in their life and have a relationship with Jesus. Fourth, they are willing to submit to God (James 4:7). This means they want to do His will, obey His commands, and go where He leads. Fifth, they have a desire to serve others and to love others as Christ has loved them. Finally, they have a longing to share the good news with others. They willingly witness and proclaim the gospel.

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So, how do we help feed the spiritual hunger of others? First, we should encourage the eating of spiritual food, which is to read God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). To grow in Christ they’ve got to know Christ. Second, we should encourage regular worship. It helps them put the focus on God in their lives. Third, we should encourage the resistance to “sweets” (sins of the world) that diminish one’s appetite for God. Remind them to avoid situations that can lead to temptation and sin and separate them from God. Fourth, we should encourage the feeding of others through service and mission.  In order to receive they must first give away (Luke 6:38). Fifth, we should encourage the development of a Godly perspective. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) And finally, encourage them to develop a strong prayer life. It builds their relationship with their Heavenly Father and reinforces their faith as they see God answer prayer.

Here are a few extra tips on encouraging others to develop a hunger for God:

  1. Be an example – Don’t just tell them, show them!
  2. Do it together – make yourself accountable to others
  3. Focus on the positive – criticism destroys desire
  4. Be proactive – don’t wait for them to initiate activity
  5. Give all praise and glory to God – It is always about Him!

Encouraging others to develop a hunger for God is an important step in discipling them. Let us be examples and show the way!

(From Chapter 1 in Discipleship for Church Leaders™ Training Manual, ©2015 by Barry Voss)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  FaithLife Ministries was founded by Barry Voss & Kim Star-Voss in 2001 as a ministry to train and equip Christian leaders in the mission field.

In 1996, Barry first heard the call to go to the mission field. On that mission trip to Kazakhstan, he sensed God’s call on his life to serve Him in a mission field ministry. He continued to respond to that call by going on several more mission trips to teach and minister in 1997. In 1998 he felt God’s call to organize and lead mission trips, and so he recruited and led teams to Peru in 1999 & 2000 through Missions International, a Nashville based mission agency. In 2001, God led Barry and Kim to decide to incorporate in order to lead mission teams on their own, and so FaithLife Ministries was born. They led their first mission trip to the Philippines in May of that year. On that trip Barry taught a workshop on Church Administration.  Our Philippines host invited Barry to come back the following year and teach on that topic for an entire week at their Bible School.  As a result, Barry developed the Management For Church Leaders™training course.  Since then this ministry has continued to grow as God has led us to more mission field contacts and opened up more opportunities for us to train and equip the leaders of His church.

In 2005, Barry was called to work full-time in this ministry. His focus is on church leadership and management training.  Kim has developed a series of Children’s Ministry Books that are available through this website and joins Barry to teach on leadership and management occasionally. The Lord has continued to affirm our teaching and has led us to seek more opportunities and foreign trainers.

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